"Are you running for something?" I smiled even as I answered, "Gosh, no." Before the call was over, I was reamed for being "scurrilous" and "stupid." Then, the caller flung the ultimate New England insult: "How long have you lived in this town?" Ouch.
Yeah, it was about my previous entry, a pointed comparison between the Bath Schoolhouse Massacre and the PCC's attack on education in Portsmouth. In addition to posting it here, a shorter version appeared in last week's Newport Daily News, and this week's Sakonnet Times. That's where this guy must have read the piece, since it hit the stands today.
I didn't even know they ran the dumb thing until I got a call earlier this afternoon complimenting me. That turned out to be a charming, intelligent person -- who had also written a letter to the editor recently that I thought quite well done -- and we had a fun, civilized chat. (Thank you!)
Tonight, at 8:30, there was this anonymous voice on the phone. "You don't know what it's like to be retired and pay these taxes." I tried to explain that, in fact, I did, since I'd been paying taxes on this house for my mom until she died. "But this is the first year you've paid taxes." Hmm. "How do you know that," I asked, but the cloak of mystery descended: "I know everything," he said.
Know all, tell nothing. Wouldn't say who he was. I tried all the tricks I use in corporate comms: empathy, common ground, looking for win-wins. He did tell me his name was "Harry." And that his property was now valued at 900K, up from 100K when he bought it. And I said, yeah, I can understand why you'd be upset paying taxes on that. But no, no common ground to be had. He hung up on me.
Karen shrugged: "It just proves the point you made." Yeah, I guess so. And while it's appropriate to be called on to defend your ideas, it speaks to the character of the PCC's supporters that they call people up, anonymously, while they're trying to put their kids in bed and harass them.
Truth to tell, it did kind of tickle me. I mean, heck, I've been a pro writer for ten years now -- a Sturgeon Award, shortlisted for the Sidewise, preliminary ballot for the Nebula -- sob -- nobody ever called to tell me I was...stupid...
BTW, "Harry" & co: If you're googling -- Verizon has your number. Don't fuck with me.